U.S. & UK intensify campaign against Russia; UK harks back to first pillar of new Cold War, the Magnitsky hoax

By Lucy Komisar
July 6, 2020, Committee for an East-West Accord.

Browder testimony to Senate Judiciary Committee
claimed that Magnitsky was beaten to death by 8 riot guards.

The U.S. and UK are intensifying their collaborative Cold War against Russia. In Washington, calls for sanctions are based on the fake bountygate, and the UK has sanctioned selected Russians based on William Browder’s Magnitsky hoax.

The bountygate charge that Russia paid militants to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan is unproved by U.S. intelligence agencies and even discounted by the international wire-tapping National Security Agency (NSA). The UK sanctions against 25 Russians, judges and court officials, tax investigators, and prison doctors, are based on disproved claims by billionaire investor William Browder that they were responsible for the death of his accountant Sergei Magnitsky.

Browder Magnitsky story is a pillar of America Russiagate, which has five. Before bountygate, there was the 2019 Mueller Report which found no evidence that President Trump had colluded with the Russians, the Jan 2017 intelligence agencies charge of Russian interference in the U.S. 2016 election which concludes with the admission that they had no proof; and the 2016 accusation that Russians had stolen Democratic National Committee emails, made by the private security group CrowdStrike, later walked back by CrowdStrike president Shawn Henry at a secret House hearing in Dec 2017, but not revealed till this May.

With the UK, we return to the first pillar of the U.S. Russiagate story, the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which targeted many on the U.S. list. The Magnitsky Act is recognized as the beginning of the deterioration of U.S.-Russian relations. It is based on a hoax invented by Browder and easily disproved by documentary evidence, if governments cared about that.


The European Court of Human Rights on Magnitsky arrest

First, a few of the obvious fake charges. Three judges are accused of detaining Magnitsky, which the UK says facilitated his mistreatment and denial of medical care. However, the European Court of Human Rights ruled in August 2019, The Russians had good reason to arrest Sergei Magnitsky for Hermitage tax evasion. The Court said: The accusations were based on documentary evidence relating to the payment of taxes by those companies and statements by several disabled persons who had confessed to sham work for the two companies.

The decision to arrest him was made after investigating authorities noted that during a tax inquiry which had preceded the criminal investigation, Mr Magnitskiy had influenced witnesses, and that he had been preparing to flee abroad. In particular, he had applied for an entry visa to the United Kingdom and had booked a flight to Kyiv. He was a flight risk.

Several of the UK targets were said to have facilitated mistreatment of Magnitsky because they had been involved in a fraud he exposed. The reference is to a $230-million tax refund scam against the Russian Treasury.

Back to the ECHR: The Court observe[d] that the inquiry into alleged tax evasion, resulting in the criminal proceedings against Mr Magnitskiy, started in 2004, long before he complained that prosecuting officials had been involved in fraudulent acts. The taxes were the real story; the fraud narrative was a cover-up.

The fake fraud story

Magnitsky did not uncover a massive fraud. That was the tax refund fraud in which companies engaged in collusive lawsuits, lost the suits, and agreed to pay damages equal to their entire year profits. They then requested a full refund of taxes paid on the now zero gains. The fake lawsuits and payouts were first revealed to police by Russian shell company director Rimma Starova April 9 and July 10, 2008. (Russian originals April and July.)

With investigators on the trail, Browder Hermitage Fund director Paul Wrench filed a complaint about the fraud, and Browder gave the story to The NYTimes and the Russian paper Vedomosti (ignore strike-thru, this goes to link), which published it July 24, 2008, long before Magnitsky mentioned it in October 2008. His testimony did not accuse any officials.

Browder’s Hermitage Fund in 2009 put out press release noting Starova’s complaint to police. See last graph. Browder deleted it when his narrative changed, but the Wayback Machine preserved it. She says there has been a violation of Article 165 of the criminal code. Browder translates that into Starova accusing his companies of the theft of state funds. She talks about involvement of Viktor Markelov, who organized the fraud. In his testimony, Markelov said he got documents from a Sergei Leonidovich. Magnitsky’s full name was Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky.

The main story at the center of the Magnitsky Acts in the U.S. and UK are not that he was mistreated or failed to get good medical care, which is what is mostly alleged here. That would put dozens of U.S. prison officials in the crosshairs, including recently those running state prison systems in Alabama and Mississippi. It is that he was murdered. In the only reference to beating, the head of the Matrosskaya detention center is accused of ordering the handcuffing and beating of Magnitsky before he died.

The U.S. Act, on which the British version is modeled, says that in detention Magnitsky was beaten by 8 guards with rubber batons on the last day of his life. But the alleged assailants’ names are not on the list. A key argument made by sponsors Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md) and Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass) was that the people targeted tax investigators, court officials, hospital workers — played a role in this claimed murder of Magnitsky. (Cardin and McGovern havent responded to my requests to comment on contradictory evidence.)

UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab takes the same line, declaring, You cannot set foot in this country, and we will seize your blood-drenched ill-gotten gains if you try, as he announced the new sanctions. Blood-drenched? No evidence supplied for the sanctioned Russians.

For Browder, the purpose of the Magnitsky Acts he promotes in the West is as a political tool to build a wall against Russias attempt to have him answer for documented financial frauds totaling at least $100 million, and with new evidence as much as $400 million.

The death hoax: Forensic photos tell the truth

Here is the story of Magnitsky death hoax, with links to evidence, including how Browder forged and falsified documents.

Browder had the Russian forensic reports and photos that were made after Magnitskys death but suppressed what did not support his arguments. The photos in this forensic report show that Magnitsky, allegedly beaten to death, didnt have a life-threatening mark on his body.

Magnitskys body on a cot in the hospital ward. Script: The position of the corpse of Mr. S. L. Magnitsky.


Script: The situation in the [hospital] ward, viewed towards the door.

Magnitsky face shoulders on hospital-bed. Script: Chest image of Mr. S. L. Magnitsky.

Browder doctored part of another forensic report provided in translation to the Physicians for Human Rights, Cambridge, Mass., for its analysis of Magnitsky’s death. It notes as illegible words that show there were no beating marks on Magnitsky’s body and that there was no scalp damage. The deleted parts of the true translation are underlined.

The cadaverous spots are abundant, bluish-violet, diffuse, located on the back surface of the neck, trunk, upper and lower extremities, with pressure on them with a finger disappear and restore their original color after 8 minutes. Damage not found on the scalp.

The doctored line reads, The cadaverous spots are abundant, bluish-violet, diffuse, located on the back surface of the neck, trunk, upper and lower extremities, (illegible) not found on the scalp.

Here in the report that Browder gave PHR:

Browder doctored report claims a section illegible, third line.

The paragraph in the Russian document shows nothing is illegible.

Russian document shows nothing is illegible.

Every word is legible in the Russian document. There is a round seal with the words “Copy Correct” and the name of the organization over some of the words at the left bottom of page 2, which makes a few letters in some words illegible, but from the other (legible) letters it is possible to figure out what the whole words are. The seal overlaps with the words “spots” (of “Cadaverous spots”), “abundant”, “neck”, and “trunk”. In other words, every single character is perfectly legible. The entire phrase “Damages on the hair-covered part of the head have not been found.” is perfectly legible, every character in every word of it.

In Russian language “cadaverous spots” and “bruises” are completely different words. Bruises would not disappear when pressed on them with a finger.

The last four sentences in the original Russian document are (they are followed only by a signature):

“Chronic active persistent hepatitis. Lipomatosis of the pancreas. Mild perivascular and peribronchial pneumosclerosis. Fibrosis of the soft brain shell.”

But in Browder’s translation these sentences become:

“Moderate fibrosis and lipomatosis of pancreas. Fibrosis of meninx vasculosa. Anisofolliculosis of thyroid gland. Mildly expressed arterioglomerulonephrosclerosis.”

There is no mentioning of “thyroid gland” anywhere in the Russian document.

After these four sentences the Russian document ends, but in Browder’s translation they are on Page 12. Then Browder’s document contains 28 more pages (13 through 40) that are NOT FOUND in the Russian document.

There are four occurrences of the word (illegible) in brackets in the English document on pages 5, 6, 9, and 16. Here are the translations:

Page 5 :

Трупные пятна обильные, синюшно-фиолетовые, разлитые, располагающиеся на задней поверхности шеи, туловища, верхних и нижних конечностей, при надавливании на них пальцем исчезают и восстанавливают свою первоначальную окраску через 8 минут. Повреждений на волосистой части головы не обнаружено. Кости лицевого скелета, хрящи носа на ощупь целы.  Глаза закрыты.

English text Browder version

Cadaveric rigidity is well expressed in the muscles of masticatory muscle system, in the neck muscles and the limbs. Cadaveric lividities are abundant, livid purple, diffused, located on the back surface of the neck, the body, upper and lower limbs (illegible) not found on the scalp. The bones of the facial skeleton, the nasal cartilages are unbroken to the touch. The eyes are closed.

What the American pathologist who analyzed Browders documents said

Dr. Robert Bux

Dr. Robert C. Bux, then coroner/chief medical examiner for the El Paso County Coroners Office in Colorado Springs, was the forensic expert on the team that wrote the PHR report. Bux told me, I do not think that these spots are contusions. Contusions will not go away and can be demonstrated by incising or cutting into the tissues under the skin. These are reportedly all on the posterior aspect of the neck, body and limbs and may represent postmortem lividity when the body was viewed by the prosecutor of the autopsy.

Dr. Bux said, If this is lividity (red purple coloration of the skin) it is not yet fixed and will blanch to a pale skin color and red purple coloration will disappear. If the body is then placed face up i.e. supine then after a few minutes then it will appear again. This is simply due to blood settling in the small blood vessels and a function of gravity.

It’s not what a layman reading Browders forged illegible might think. 

Dr. Bux added,  Having said all of this, I have never seen any autopsy photographs demonstrating this, and while photographs should have been taken to document all skin abnormalities as well as all surfaces of the body to document the presence or absence of trauma, I do not know if photographs were taken and withheld or never taken.

PHR said, A full and independent review of the cause of death of S.L. Magnitsky is not possible given the documentation presented and available to PHR. The document list is at its report pages 2-3.

The PHR autopsy protocol claims that there are photo tables on 2 sheets and schematic representation of injuries on 1 sheet. However, if they exist, they were not available for the present review.

They do exist, but Browder did not give them to PHR.

Browder posted and widely distributed this composite of photos of bruises on Magnitskys hand and knee taken November 17th, 2009, the day after the accountants death.

Forensic photos of bruises on Magnitsky’s hands and knee

He got them from Russian forensic Report 2052. Katie Fisher, doing public relations for Hermitage, posted them, but not the text, to Google Cloud.

The report cited circular abrasions in the wrist area, a bluish-violet bruise and multiple strip-like horizontally located abrasions.

It said, A bruise located on the inner surface of the right lower limb in the projection of the ankle joint appeared 3-6 days before the time death.

It concluded, [T]hese injuries in living persons do not entail a temporary disability or a significant permanent loss of general disability and are not regarded as harm to health, they are not in a cause and effect relationship with death.

The forensic reports attribute bruises to Magnitsky wearing handcuffs and kicking and hitting against cell doors. Magnitskys lawyer Dmitri Kharitonov told filmmaker Andrei Nekrasov, I think he was simply banging on the door with all his force trying to make them let him out and none paid attention.

No other injuries found

The same report includes schematic drawings of Magnitskys body on which to note other relevant marks or injuries.

The report said, There were no marks or injuries noted on his head or torsoNo other injuries were found on the corpse …  Browder didnt send PHR these drawings or make them public.

Forensic schematic drawings showing marks of injuries show no injuries.

Asked if there was evidence that Magnitsky was beaten to death by riot guards, Dr. Bux told me, I have no evidence to suggest that this occurred. For the record, PHR said Magnitskys death was from untreated serious illness. Even without the body photos, its experts didnt claim a beating. Forensic analysts never have.

Manipulating the death certificate

To promote his fabrication, Browder posted a deceptive PowerPoint of the death certificate that indicated a closed craniocerebral injury? circled in red, with the other text too small to read.


The true document told a different story: No signs of a violent death detected. That url is at the bottom of Browders own PowerPoint.

Magnitsky death certificate – no signs of a violent death detected

Closed meant past. Several forensic documents include an interview with Magnitskys mother Natalya Magnitskaya. She told investigators, In 1993 – I cant say a more accurate date, S.L Magnitsky had a craniocerebral injury. He slipped on the street and as a result hit his head, after which he had headaches for some time.

Investigators obtained full medical records including this on page 29 of Report 555-10 in English, which Browder gave PHR: On February 4, 1993, at about 08:40 a.m.., in his house entrance he slipped and fell down hitting his head, lost consciousness for a short time, vomited, attended for emergency help by an ambulance which took him to the City Clinic Hospital (GKB). Was examined by the neurosurgeon in the reception ward, craniogram without pathema. Diagnosis: brain concussion, recommended treatment to be taken on an out-patient clinic basis.

Browders assertion that the closed craniocerebral injury came from a beating was a lie.

Browders changing stories on the death of Magnitsky

Browder did not initially claim Magnitsky had been murdered. He said Magnitsky, left alone uncared for in a room, had simply died. After a few years, pushing the Magnitsky Act, he declared Magnitsky had been tied up and beaten by rubber baton-wielding thugs until dead.


                                                                                          Graphic by Michael Thau.

Browder December 2009 tells Chatham House, London, I dont know what they were thinking. I dont know whether they killed him deliberately on the night of the 16th, or if he died of neglect. 

They put him in a straight-jacket, put him in an isolation room and waited 1 hour and 18 minutes until he died. December 2010, San Diego Law School.

Then, promoting the Magnitsky Act, They put him in an isolation cell, tied him to a bed, then allowed eight guards guards beat him with rubber batons for 118 min until he was dead. December 2011, University of Cambridge Judge Business School.   

.they put him in an isolation cell, chained him to a bed, and eight riot guards came in and beat him with rubber batons. That night he was found dead on the cell floor. July 2017, U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee

What the Moscow Public Oversight Commission says really happened

The Public Oversight Commission, an independent Russian NGO, reports Magnitsky final day differently. November 16, 2009:

7:00pm. The patient behaves inadequately. Talks to a voice, looks disorientated, and shouts that someone wants to kill him. His condition is diagnosed as psychosis. The emergency doctor was called. There are no body damages apart from traces of handcuffs on the wrists.

7:30pm. He was left unattended without medical support. 

8:48pm. Emergency team arrived. When emergency doctors entered the special cell, Sergei was sitting on the cot, with his eyes unfocused.

9:15pm. The patient was surveyed again as his condition deteriorated. He lost consciousness. The reanimation procedure was started (indirect heart massage and ventilation of lungs using the Ambu pillow). The patient was transferred to the special room where he received an artificial ventilation of lungs and a hormones injection.

9:50pm. The patient died.

The commission reported no evidence of beating. The Russian forensic and medical experts conclusion was that Magnitsky had heart disease (arteriosclerosis), diabetes, hepatitis, and pancreatitis, some illnesses predating arrest. They wrote detailed criticism of the doctors treatment, saying that it wasnt timely or adequate and that the shortcomings in the provision of the medical assistance to S.L. Magnitsky caused his death.

But it not the riot squad beating Browder, with no evidence, sold to the U.S. Congress, the State Department, the UK Parliament, the Foreign Office and the media. Or that U.S. or UK authorities or media ever attempted to prove. Because like the Tonkin Gulf incident and Iraq’s WMD, the weaponized Russiagate stories have a foreign/military policy goal. Truth is quite irrelevant.

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7 Responses to "U.S. & UK intensify campaign against Russia; UK harks back to first pillar of new Cold War, the Magnitsky hoax"

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